Bad roads follow me. There was the muddy cliff road in Tarabya, under construction for 10 months. Then there was the newly bricked road on Luleci Hendek St. Now my street and the ones around it are being bricked.
However, now that I can lean out my front window and watch closely, it is an interesting process to watch. I was shocked to come home one evening, the day before a party I was giving at my house, to find my whole block with the asphalt jack-hammered up. Now, my whole street is only a block long, so it is sort of a microcosm of the big street bricking that is going on in the ‘hood.
The day after they chewed up the asphalt, a front-loader came to load it into trucks, which would presumably take it for landfill or recycling. It smoothed out the road bed a bit, unearthing a few old bricks from previous roads. In fact, you can tell that the roads are old, because many basement windows are actually sub-basements now. This is yet another level of probably hundreds, since this area has been occupied for more than 2000 years.
So, after the asphalt was hauled off, trucks brought big gravel and sand. Those were dumped and smoothed over. The front-loader actually did a lot of things, and it was very interesting to watch how delicately it could move earth around. Once the roadbed was fairly smooth, bricks were delivered.
The bricks are grey and pink. The roads are laid with interlocking diamonds of these colours. However, first the gutter bricks are laid, following a string that the architect has directed. Sometimes the road is dug up right to the brick of the buildings on it. This means that they were also building sidewalks. They didn’t build parking spots—in fact my street lost the few it had. On my street they also took out a chunk of the small fenced park, so now it is about 3 meters sort of square, actually heart-shaped, a surprising little piece of green in these small back streets.
Once the bricks were laid between the gutter bricks and along the sidewalk, the finishers came. They dug up some bricks in a square. Squared off special bricks were laid to make the square, and then one man came to dig a hole. These were planted with trees. Another man laid rounded bricks along some buildings and also made steps. He smoothed the sand and laid the bricks, and then cemented them together.
This was all accomplished with much brute labour. Men used shovels to help smooth the gravel and sand and to dig it out from where it shouldn’t be. They laid the bricks on their hand and knees. Some of them started out wearing rubber gloves, so the sidewalk was littered with rubber gloves that were worn through. As a result, they continued barehanded. Some men were assigned to filling up wheelbarrows with bricks from the pile that was dumped. Later they went to where there were random piles of bricks and found whole bricks to be used further down the street. These men worked from about 7:30 or 8:00 in the morning until late at night. The jackhammer was going until 10:30 or 11:00 at night, and some of the bricking went on all night. These streets are used a lot, and time is of the essence.
Most of the store owners were pleased with these new roads. They are more attractive and invite walkers. Word is that one day these roads will actually be closed to traffic, except for deliveries at certain times. Soon the subway will open and even more walkers will come to this old tourist area, my neighbourhood. All they have to do is follow the pink and grey brick road.